Study: children in Germany fed unhealthily

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Study Finds Unhealthy Diet in Infants

The diet of small children often leaves something to be desired in Germany. The adolescents eat too much meat and sweets, according to a study by the Research Institute for Child Nutrition (FKE). According to this, the toddlers also take in too little fluid per day on average. In the long term, there is a risk of significant health problems.

The Research Institute for Child Nutrition in Dortmund is dedicated to multidisciplinary research in the areas of nutrition, development and growth of children. As part of a current study, the institute's experts came to the preliminary conclusion that toddlers in Germany do not eat enough healthy foods such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains. In return, too much meat and sweets are consumed. The foundation stone for lifelong wrong eating habits is often laid in infancy, with correspondingly serious consequences for the health of those affected.

Children eat too much meat and sweets By researching the connections between nutrition, growth and metabolism of children and adolescents, the FKE claims to contribute to promoting health and development in growing age by improving nutrition. One of these research projects is the so-called GRETA study (German Representative Study of Toddler Alimentation), from which the first results have now become known. As part of their study, the scientists analyzed the eating habits in 525 representative households with one to three-year-old children, whereby it was found that the toddlers on the one hand eat too much candy, meat and sausages, and on the other hand drink too little, reports the news agency "dpa ". The FKE found that the adolescents drank an average of only 0.4 liters per day instead of the recommended 0.7 liters per day.

Children eat twice as much sweets per day as recommended The consumption of sweets by toddlers was around 50 grams a day, well above the recommended amount of a maximum of 25 to 30 grams per day. On the other hand, adolescents also consume healthy foods such as vegetables or whole grains too little, the experts report. For the nutritionist Dr. oec. troph. Annett Hilbig from the FKE is particularly concerned about the results of the GRETA study, since eating habits are developed especially in young children. Incorrect habits acquired here can accompany those affected for a lifetime and thus cause significant long-term health impairments, the expert emphasized to the news agency "dpa". Normally, the toddlers adopt their parents' eating habits when transitioning from baby porridge to fixed meals, the nutritionist explained. Therefore, the role model function of adults should not be underestimated at this point. And since children are particularly dependent on a healthy diet in order to develop healthily, parents should fulfill their exemplary role in eating behavior as comprehensively as possible.

French fries and sweets should be the exceptions However, many parents seem to be suffering from considerable uncertainties regarding the nutrition of infants. The GRETA study was able to determine that the adolescents often still receive baby porridge after the transition to a common family meal. According to the FKE experts, some children are mostly fed porridge even up to the age of three. "Either they like to eat it or there is a certain sense of security among their parents because they can't do anything wrong with porridge," says Annett Hilbig. According to the experts, many children also shy away from unusual foods simply because they are new to them. If the toddlers refuse to eat healthy foods for this reason, the so-called "neophobia" can be overcome by administering small portions at regular intervals over time, the nutritionists explained. In principle, according to Annett Hilbig, there is nothing wrong with the little ones eating french fries instead of spinach, but the parents must make sure that this remains the exception. In general, unhealthy food should be offered only to a limited extent, but according to Annett Hilbig, bans are of little help.

Optimized mixed food as a nutritional recommendation for children Toddlers should ideally be fed an “optimized mixed food” after switching to solid food, the experts at FKE recommend. A lot of plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruits, potatoes, pasta and rice as well as sufficient water, unsweetened drinks or heavily diluted fruit juice spritzers should form an integral part of the diet, the FKE nutritionists advise. Milk, dairy products, eggs, lean meat and fish are also recommended, but only in significantly reduced quantities. The GRETA study comes to the conclusion that the children in wealthy families and from higher educational levels tend to be fed significantly better than on average. This is also due to the choice of fresh food in food preparation, explained the FKE nutritionist, Annett Hilbig. The GRETA study found that the wealthier families come closest to the FKE recommendations for optimized mixed food.

Conversion from baby porridge to family food The research institute for children's nutrition, which is protected under the name "Optimix", also offers a brochure about the optimized mixed food. However, this diet can only serve as a guide after the transition to solid food. For the transition from porridge to "family food", the FKE recommends, for example, solid food made from vegetables, potatoes, rice or pasta with a little meat instead of the previous vegetable-potato-meat porridge. According to this principle, the morning milk-cereal porridge and the evening milk meal in breakfast and dinner from milk, bread or cereal flakes, as well as fruit and raw food, explain the FKE experts. The porridge meals are replaced by equivalent solid foods from similar foods. In this way, the children learn a healthy diet right from the start, which supports them optimally in their development and prevents health problems caused by eating habits (e.g. lack of nutrients, obesity). (fp)

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